Genie and I are Atlanta natives. For fifteen years, we have spent half our time at our off-grid log cabin in the mountains above Boulder. People understand why we leave 90 degree heat in the summer to head to 9000 feet where it never goes above 80. What they don't understand is why we also winter out in Colorado.
My friends from the Midwest would love to get away from winter. Snow was so scarce in Atlanta when we grew up that we still love to play in the snow as adults. We didn't understand when our son first went to CU Boulder that even in winter there are beautiful, sunny days.
Unlike the Midwest and Northeast, where it is gray, snowy and cold from November to May, the abundant sunshine in Boulder makes winter much more fun. So, I decided to create an album and video to show our friends: This is how we Winter. Enjoy.
Here we go down the driveway with Smokey after a 3 ft. dump.
Now that we have our T@B, we went winter camping again for the firs time since 1973.
Windswept Ward, where winter lingers
Looking east towards Boulder and the plains
We keep feeders and suet out on the porch and have an amazing collection of birds who winter here.
We can get an idea of how much snow is falling by looking at the grate on the stair landing. We keep the steps swept and shoveled in the winter, so this is just last night's snow.
He loves nothing more than to sit at the top of the stairs surveying his domain.
Solar panels covered in snow. Time for the backup generator to crank. We are off grid, and depend upon the generator in winter.
We often have wind in the mountains. The wind sculpture helps us see how hard it is blowing. In 2014, we had a month where the high wind speed was at least 35 MPH each day.
In the summer, you have to be up at 5:30 AM to see the sun rise. In the winter, it rises around 7 AM. We see many more sunrises in winter.
The reward for getting up and out at first light is the pink snow.
After snow shoeing down to the aspens to get catch the first rays of sun coming through the trees, I caught this picture of the cabin in pink snow.
We love nothing more than gathering our family together in the cabin for the holidays. We find a tree on the property.
A fun family tradition
We do a pastors' retreat in winter for our team back at City Church Eastside in Atlanta. Great fun skiing, snow shoeing and sledding in the fresh snow.
Our camping cabin covered in snow.
When the snow is not too deep, and the wind and cold are tolerable, we can build a fire and watch the sunset from over by the Hytte.
Wildlife viewing in the winter is better because you can see the tracks in the snow, and know who has visited. Here a mother moose and her young graze on the bushes.
Because of our eastern and southern exposure, our meadow melts out after a few days of sun. Then, the deer and elk come to graze.
After watching a handful of bucks grazing evening after evening, Genie saw one without antlers. The next day, we were out snow shoeing, and found the pair of antlers he had shed.
Just across our fence, he was scavanging for a winter meal
They cruise up our plowed driveway looking for a meal. They have tried to draw Smokey away into the woods where they could make a meal out of him.
The Bull Elk stay together in small bands for safety from the mountain lions.
We have many rabbits on the property, and Bobcats love rabbit. We saw this guy on the side of the road near the cabin. We have seen them several times on the property, and see their tracks regularly in winter.
Sheep often come down to a mineral lick, or to drink from the South St Vrain in the canyon. We mostly see them on winter mornings.
When the leaves are gone from the trees, it is easier to see hawks, owls and eagles in the Boulder County Open Space. Here are a pair of Bald Eagles in a tree.
We do a raptor driving tour each winter. This time, we stopped at a spot where we had seen an owl four years ago. Sure enough, we found one again.
We see as many as 40-45 hawks, eagles, falcons and owls in a three hour tour of the open space in winter.
We love to tour Rocky in winter. The Elk have come down from the high country to gather together and graze in the lower meadows.
Rocky can be brutal in winter, but it can be calm and beautiful as well.
Looking for trout in the meltwater
We had a stretch of warm weather that melted the snow off a dozen or so campsites in the Moraine Park campground.
Our friend Beverly Gholson joined us for a winter campout in the snow in Rocky
You should've heard him howl when the Coyotes started yipping.
Nothing like a campfire on a cold evening.
I've started taking photos of night sky.
Smokedog on the lookout
It is wonderful to be totally off grid, no phone, no wifi, no Facebook. Just sitting around adoring God's creation.
Looking up the Big Thompson valley into the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park
People fish year round up here.
after a winter camping stay.
Most winters, we take a few days off from the weather to go down to Utah. We have visited Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce, Zion, and Capitol Reef National parks in winter. Here you see a Panorama of Arches National Park in winter.
In winter, the crowds are gone, the photography is great. This is also Arches National Park.
The colors are great at dawn. Looking through another arch.
This takes a hike to see, but the trail is fairly clear of snow.
Moab is a center of four-wheeling and mountain biking. We took a hummer tour of the slick rock. It was the first tour of the year, and we found some snow on the trials. Sketchy.
We have visited Canyonlands at least a half a dozen times in the last 40 years. We still love to visit. This is from Islands in the Sky.
Another wonderful short hike in Canyonlands. See the La Salle mountains in the distance.
We visited Yellowstone in winter to see the wolves in the Lamar Valley.
We skied up to Calcite Springs overlook on the Yellowstone River, about a 2.5 mile round trip. Slow grade uphill the whole way, easy ride back.
Beautiful catch with him perched on two rocks, just as we entered Yellowstone
Fun to watch the Bison herds in Yellowstone looking for forage under deep snow.
When the wolves were reintroduced into the Yellowstone ecosystem, there were between 16,000-20,000 Elk in the park. Now there are 6000, and the wolf population has dropped from 175 to 100 in the park.
Wolfpack on the prowl
Bryce is at high elevation, so there is a lot of snow in winter.
Zion National Park is much lower, and warmer in winter. Here the Virgin River flows through the canyon it has cut.
So, you see, there is plenty to do out west in the winter beyond skiing.